Visit the Detroit Zoo During the Winter

Spring is on the horizon but continuous warm temps might be a ways away. If you’re anything like us, the kids are going crazy inside, you’re going crazy inside, and it’s time to get out! The perfect place to head? The Detroit Zoo during the winter, of course!

Did you know the zoo is open every day except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years? That’s 362 days to enjoy! You can still get your animal fix in at the Detroit Zoo during the winter and enjoy some massive perks. Read on below to find out why you should head to the zoo this winter.


Rounding off the top of our list is that the Detroit Zoo during the winter is WAY LESS CROWDED. If you can get there on a weekday, it will feel like you have the place to yourself. Less crowds make for easier viewing, and your little ones can run and stretch their legs without getting run over!

Summertime is perfect for a stroll at the zoo for humans, but sometimes it means the animals are a little lazy in the summer heat! In the winter, you’ll get an entirely different experience. Some of our best animal viewing has happened at the Detroit Zoo during the winter. You’ll most likely be able to catch them up and active, especially our favorite tiger friends!

What to Bring to the Detroit Zoo During the Winter

Obviously check the weather for the day! Visiting the Detroit Zoo during the winter is bound to be a little chilly. If it’s looking SUPER cold, layer up like you’re going out in the snow. Think snow pants, gloves, and winter coats to make sure you can stay nice and warm. Bringing a stroller or wagon? Throw in a blanket to wrap up your babes. Even better if you have a heated blanket! Don’t forget to hit the grocery store and bring hand warmers for gloves. We also recommend hand warmers in the boots if you’re prone to cold feet!

A game changer for us, as we don’t like being cold, was a heated vest. You can buy both vests and coats that come heated! We’re pretty cold a lot of the time, and it is a great investment for the winter months.

Places to Warm up at the Detroit Zoo During the Winter

Cotton Family Wolf Center

Feeling cold as you leave the Kangaroos? Just on the other side is the Cotton Family Wolf Center. Pop in here to warm up, catch a glimpse of the wolves, and check out all the amazing photographs.

Arctic Ring of Life

Of course the Arctic is a cold place to be in the wild. Walking through the exhibit at the Detroit Zoo during the winter will give you an opportunity to see the polar bears and seals, plus you’ll get a break from the elements. You’ll still feel like you are in them without the cold.


You’ve made it halfway through the zoo and you’re looking for a break! On cold days, the giraffes can be viewed inside, and you can warm up for a minute. 

The Hangout

The Hangout is an easily missed spot but can offer a warm up if you’re visiting the Detroit Zoo during the winter! Nestled in between the rhinos and lions, head on in to this year’s round indoor exhibit to catch a glimpse of Molasses, the two-toed sloth, along with a few fruit bats.


After leaving The Hangout, you can head straight to the Rhinos’ indoor enclosure. You can stroll through and catch them up close on colder days!

Butterfly Garden and Maltida R. Wilson Free-Flight Aviary

Head for a tropical escape with the Butterfly Garden and Aviary. When you enter, you won’t even realize you’re at the Detroit Zoo during the winter! Your kids will have a blast searching for butterflies and birds of all kinds, and everyone can warm up for a bit. Stay as long as you like in the house and aviary, and watch the butterflies and birds in their habitats. 

Holden Reptile Conservation Center

This is one your kids will want to see. It’s so warm in there you might even consider taking your coat off. Check out the Chinese alligator and all of the other amazing reptiles here! 

National Amphibian Conservation Center

Easily missed, the amphibian center will be another spot to head out of the cold. If you’ve got a frog lover, spend some time in here while you shake off the cold!

Restaurants to enjoy at the Detroit Zoo During the Winter

Feeling a little hungry and want to sit inside for a bit? Not all of the restaurants are open in the winter, but you can still grab food at the Arctic Cafe and Buddy’s Pizza. The Arctic Cafe is open daily, and you can also grab a drink from Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. to warm you up. Buddy’s is only open on Saturday and Sunday but is another option to stop if you’re visiting the Detroit Zoo during the winter weekends! 

Things to Note at the Detroit Zoo During the Winter

If you purchase your tickets ahead of time online, you may be able to receive a discounted price. Head to Detroit Zoo’s webpage for full details. 

Forgot your stroller or wagon? You are able to rent them at the zoo from the Main Train Station. Strollers start at seven dollars and wagons are 10.

The zoo is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through March. Members can enter at 9 a.m. on the weekends through March.

Download Detroit Zoo Treks for an interactive map that will guide you through the Zoo.

You are not able to buy one-time-use plastic bottled water, but reusable bottles are available for purchase.

So what are you waiting for?
Pack up the family and head to Detroit Zoo during the winter! You won’t regret it!


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